Feedback is a tool for growth! But all too often it is seen as a tool for discipline or to get one’s way.
I recently ran a giving and receiving feedback course as part of some leadership training for a company. As part of our usual process, the course delegates (the entire company in this case) had to work on an action related to the workshops. 2 to 3 weeks after the workshops I would interview / coach them on how they went on these actions. In the case of of this workshop we set a goal that each delegate had to ask 5 other people who are not in their immediate division for feedback on their processes, communication styles, abilities or strengths and weaknesses.
And during the process of coaching 50 odd candidates I learnt something extremely valuable!
Before I get to that, let me start by saying that out of 50 people, every single person took up the challenge. Some didn’t quite get to 5 but everyone managed at least 3. So it was a pretty good sample size. In some cases, as with any company, some divisions communicated well and others hadn’t been functioning as effectively. As part of the learning we encouraged them to follow the below principles for asking for feedback
1) Develop a growth mindset – see feedback as an opportunity for growth
2) Ask for specific feedback, the more specific the ask, the more specific the feedback
3) Be thankful when you receive feedback, you want the person to be able to give more feedback in the future
4) Take a well rounded perspective, one persons opinion is only their opinion. Multiple opinions helps you establish a pattern
5) Look for clues in peoples body language, sometimes it is what’s they are not saying that is important
6) Be objective – never let the first words out of your mouth be “oh, yeah, but…” This is not the time to justify actions
Going through the 50 coaching sessions was one of the most satisfying moments in my career. I heard stories of connection that had helped changed people’s lives, not just improve their working environment.
But here is the number one thing I learned from those 50 sessions. Asking for feedback takes courage. It requires us to become vulnerable. Sometimes to a point of trembling fear. But in every case, and I mean every single case, it was worth it. Every time lead to a more productive and open relationship, improved processes and deeper connections. Every time!
Take control of your own growth means taking control of your own feedback. So get out there and ask for it.